CUYAHOGA FALLS: Brecksville-Broadview Heights junior Austin Assad added another top-5 finish to his resume, as he placed third in the 120-pound weight class of the Ironman Wrestling Tournament held at Walsh Jesuit High School Saturday night.
Assad already has two second-place finishes at the state tournament in Columbus at 106 pounds in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
This year, though, Assad wants to find the top of the podium in Columbus. He already switched weight classes, moving from 106 up to 120, and has adjusted his wrestling style. Placing third at the Ironman, one of the most prestigious wrestling tournaments in the country, is a good start.
“I feel like I wrestled really well this weekend,” Assad said Saturday after notching a 3-1 decision over Markus Simmons of Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma in the third-place match. “I made it to the semis and lost but just had to keep looking forward. This season, I’m wrestling a lot better than in the past and this gives me momentum for the rest of the season.”
Assad was too small to wrestle at 120 pounds last year and couldn’t go to 113, as his older brother Aaron was entrenched in that spot. So he cut his weight all the way down to 106.
He’s now wrestling with much more movement, and it’s garnering positive results.
“I think out there on the mat, I’m focusing more,” Assad said. “I’m getting more motion on my offense with a steady attack compared to last year, when I was slower and more methodical. This year, I’m pushing the pace.”
Assad’s teammate at Brecksville, senior Josh Murphy, took fifth at 195 pounds.
Massillon Perry took sixth as a team at the Ironman Tournament, but the Panthers could have finished higher if not for an early injury to one of their best wrestlers.
Junior Jose Rodriguez, wrestling at 113 pounds, twisted his knee in his first match of the tournament couldn’t continue. Rodriguez won a state title at 106 pounds last year and likely would have given Perry about 20 more points, which would have given them a top-4 finish in the team results Saturday night.
Still, the Panthers had five wrestlers place in the top-8. Senior Isaac Bast (170 pounds) and senior Tony Dailey (160 pounds) each placed fourth, senior Stefano Millin finished in fifth place at 220 pounds and seniors David Bavery (126 pounds) and Casey Sparkman (152 pounds) each took seventh.
“I’m really happy with how our kids participated,” Perry coach Dave Riggs said. “And the guys that didn’t place put forth a great effort. We have a good team and I’m real proud.”
Bast, in particular, had a tough bracket — he defeated three former state champions (two from Ohio, one from Illinois).
“And that’s just coming back to take third,” Riggs said. “He gave it all his heart.”
For Walsh Jesuit, sophomore Alex Mackall took sixth place at 120 pounds, notching five wins along the way.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.